Social Media vs. One-On-One Relationships

The other day during one of my nonprofit administration classes, my professor brought in a guest speaker who worked in the nonprofit PR field. I was SO excited. A guest speaker doing EXACTLY what I want to do once I graduate!

The guest speaker was hilarious. She told us a lot of funny stories about her experiences with fundraising and various PR campaigns. After story time, she finally started telling us about PR basics; the message, the audience, etc.

When she got to the topic of “the medium” she said something along the lines of, “Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are useless, one-on-one relationships are the only thing that nonprofit organizations should focus on.”

My jaw dropped. Literally. There I was, in the front row, with my jaw hanging so far down that it almost hit my collarbone. Then she asked our class, “So, what do you all think about nonprofits and social media?”

Usually I just sit in class and I won’t speak unless I’m spoken to first, but when she asked that question I shot my hand into the air so fast I nearly dislocated my shoulder.


What did I think about nonprofits and social media? Well, considering I have a blog dedicated to that exact topic, I had a lot to say about it.  After eight minutes of me talking about how great Twitter is for nonprofits, it was obvious that the guest speaker and I had conflicting views on the subject.

I told her that while one-on-one relationships are a key to a successful nonprofit, social media is also a GREAT resource. In the eight minutes I had to speak, I gave her a quick summary of nonprofits and social media. Twitter and Facebook are easy, free ways for people to go learn about an organization, their mission and volunteer opportunities. These sites are also places to publicly acknowledge their donors and volunteers. They are immediate and much easier to update than a website and they allow for a nearly instant two-way conversation as opposed to just static produced on a website.

Her reaction was that nonprofits are organizations with limited time and resources and that social media is just a waste of time that could be spent on making personal, one-on-one relationships.

So what do you think? Should nonprofits care about social media, or is it just a waste of their time?

Photo by andybrannan


4 thoughts on “Social Media vs. One-On-One Relationships

  1. I totally agree with you on this one. I have been working my way into the world of dance PR and I feel that many of my future colleagues have a similar opinion, or don’t feel that social media should be a huge focus for an organization. Sometimes I wonder just how many people truly participate in the conversations on Facebook and Twitter. Many of my friends do not use these platforms and whole lot and so I do think that non-profits should find out what kind of audience they are working with before they plan a full-fledged social media campaign.

    • I definitely agree, knowing your audience is a huge part of PR and Twitter is still catching on with our generation. Although Twitter isn’t used as much as other social media platforms like Facebook, I think it is a great tool to reach out to new audiences and gain publicity for an organization.

  2. SM, twitter and facebook et al are complete wastes of time for non-profits….wait.

    I don’t believe that at all. Certainly you have to know your context and how to communicate with your constituencies but to not use these free resources is borderline moronic, if your goal is to engage a wider audience and to bring about awareness of your non-profit.

    With that said, the one-on-ones are vital to any business, whether it be through customer services calls, coffee with donors, etc.

    I think it is a very important both/and scenario whereas you can use SM to “get the word out” but most also be following up with IRL opportunities for those involved or interested in your cause.

  3. Having someone say “Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are useless, one-on-one relationships are the only thing that nonprofit organizations should focus on.” is like saying you should never answer your phone, it might be someone donating a million bucks.

    I have been working with marketing in one form or another for most of my adult life. Having free social platforms are very valuable if used correctly, can cut advertising budgets, increase visibility, create brand awareness and equity as well as being more directly involved in your local community.

    I have been on Twitter and Facebook for over 3 years now, I have some great friends in both places and would not have the accessibility to the vast knowledge or contacts if I did not have those platforms.

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